Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Speaking as a snake-handling agnostic, I'm having some trouble with this inauguration thing. This is mainly because I can't think of the word 'inauguration' without thinking of a certain Kenneth Anger film which, for reasons now long forgotten, once played some part in my imaginative life. I'm also having trouble making sense of what people are saying. Polly Toynbee says it's a good thing and, er, that's it and David Brooks talks of a return to the cool pragmatism implicit in Daniel Bell's The End of Ideology. Boomer idealism, he says, disrupted our progress towards cool pragmatism, but not, apparently, the at least as corrosive ideologies of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism. Weird. I suppose it's a case of everybody trying to say something without knowing exactly what. Personally I'm all for Obama, if only because the alternative seemed to be a continuation of a corrupt and incompetent administration too much in thrall to the Israeli model of perpetual war but also because I am inclined to go along with Andrew Sullivan's view that he's basically a Tory. That said, I've handled too many snakes to expect much of new, young politicians - nor of old old ones come to that. But, doubtless, my eyes will moisten this afternoon. Human hope - especially when you don't have much of it yourself - is a very moving thing, perhaps the most moving thing.
Coincidentally, last night I happened upon a very great Edward Thomas poem. In the midst of the First World War, a ploughman considers the slaughter and says, '...if we could see all all might seem good'. Every prayer ever spoken is embodied in that line. So what the hell - go, Barack.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 8:23 am